Tuesday 11 January 2011

Nowhere to Turn for Vulnerable

I have to accept that the majority of people still support cuts to public spending. http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2945

I think that in a fuzzy, undefined way, most of them think the cuts will mainly come from dole scroungers, healthy cheats "on the sick", cutting extortionately high housing benefit enabling massive immigrant families to live in mansions in Mayfair and mopping up the rest, the catch all conscience salve of "efficiency savings."

We're talking about at least £83 Billions of cuts. I'm sure most of us don't have a clue about how much money £83 Billions actually is - well it's eye watering. If you believe a single word I write, then believe me, it's not coming from "efficiency savings" and a few scroungers. Remember, tax rises on top of this £83 Billions (mainly VAT) will only account for around £20 Billions. (Only!)

Of course, I am most passionate about cuts to disability and sickness benefits. So often, this group can't answer back, (literally) can't physically march endlessly up and down Whitehall, and they don't have the financial alternatives to benefits that healthy people do. I know it's easy to turn a blind eye, (no pun intended) or believe the oh-so-smooth Mr Cameron when he assures you that the "poorest and most vulnerable" will be protected, but it's just not true, and my Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour friends are united in their belief that this section of society are being scapegoated, let down and abandoned in a way that is truly sickening.

This post won't be short and snappy. It might be a little detailed and specialist, but if you read it all, you'll find a litany of cuts that will make the world an impossible place for many of the most physically and mentally disabled in our society. I don't want to live in this cruel place and whatever your political persuasion, I think you'll agree. Get a cup of tea, find a quiet half hour, and please, please read this.

**  **  **  **  **  **  **  **  **  ** 

Sarah and Keith are in their forties. They have two children, Oliver and Ruby. Oliver is 11 and Ruby is 9. Sarah used to be a Paralegal, but she developed MS 6 years ago. Keith was a Fireman. Oliver was born with severe physical and learning disabilities and is largely dependent for his care needs.

Keith had to first come to terms with his son's profound disability. Then he was dealt the double blow of finding that his wife too, had a progressive, degenerative illness that would shorten her life and slowly take her away from him. He faced a choice : Give up work and look after his family, or see his son and eventually his wife, go into care.

He gave up work and the family became completely dependent on the state for their housing needs, income to buy food and pay bills, care needs for Sarah and Oliver, and transport costs. Nonetheless, Keith undoubtedly saves the state thousands of pounds every month. The cost of pemanent residential care for Oliver would be massive and it will not be long before Sarah would also need full time, residential care. Keith does all of this, largely alone, with just the occasional support of a local hospice for Oliver, that provides a few hours respite care once a week. Oliver does go to a special school and with his modified transport provided through DLA, Keith's dream, is that, with state assistance and Keith's ever constant support, one day, he will be able to live independently, and manage some kind of fulfilling work.

After a year or so, when their lives had somehow settled into the new, (previously unimaginable) routine, Sarah found that claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) meant that she could in fact, still work part time as a paralegal. The higher rate mobility allowed her to pay for transport to and from her office and her small firm of lawyers applied for an "Access to Work" grant which meant that they could install a ramp and a special desk to enable Sarah to actually enter the building to do her job.

Today however, Sarah has become too ill to work. Her speech is slurred, she needs help feeding herself, dressing, and she uses a special chair to allow her some mobility. Now that she can no longer work, she has to claim the ridiculously entitled Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Ruby is a young carer too. Unpaid and unrecognised, she reads to her Mum and brother, makes them meals and drinks and takes on many other small tasks to help her Dad.

Keith suffers from intermittent depression when the stark reality of his situation becomes too much to bear. However, he has no choice but to carry on, daily trudging through the enormously repetitive and physically demanding job of caring for two severely disabled loved-ones. There are regular hospital stays to deal with, Consultant's appointments, costly prescription charges for Sarah, 40 page plus forms to fill in for every bit of help - for DLA for ESA, for modifications to their home (though Keith does as many as he can himself if he can every find an hour or so).

Sarah has to be "assessed" every few years to keep her financial support. Incredibly, the private American firm ATOS, used to "assess" ESA claimants, placed Sarah in the Work Capability Assessment Group, meaning that she was considered by their non-medically trained assessors to be capable of doing some kind of work. (Only 6% of claimants are now being found entitled to long term support under ATOS's assessments. ( http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/2010/11/compass-report-into-esa-assessments.html)

Oliver is regularly rushed to hospital by ambulance, his life in the balance, but so far, the incredible local children's ward have saved both his life and his fiercely nurtured dignity.

**  **  **  **  **  **  **  **  **  ** 

Since May, the family have first been concerned, then astounded, then terrified and now desperate as they've heard the endless drip-drip of announcements from the new coalition government.

The Access to Work programme has been cut, meaning that if Sarah was still at the law firm, they would never have been able to afford the ramp and desk that meant she could work for those extra few years. http://www.labourlist.org/some-cuts-dont-make-the-headlines

Their benefits are to be capped at £26,000, with only Sarah and Oliver's DLA payments excluded. They will almost certainly have to move, as from now on, their home needs will be assessed on the cheapest 30% of available housing. A local charity had raised thousands to install a special "Sensory room" for Oliver with lights and shapes and colours that help to stimulate his educational development. They will probably have to leave it all behind as the new home will need to be smaller.

Oliver's special school provision is to be axed, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2a6f0496-f996-11df-9e29-00144feab49a.html#axzz1AjCGUdhq despite promises that it would be protected. The nearest school he could go to now is over 20 miles away, leaving his education in grave doubt.

Sarah was due to appeal the decision made by ATOS that she was capable of work, (40% of assessments were going to appeal with evidence from CAB that around 70% of appeals were being upheld with representation http://www.cas.org.uk/news/2010/may/call-to-end-misery-and-hardship-for-sick-and-disabled ) but legal aid has been slashed and she will no longer qualify. The government are also talking about limiting the right to certain tribunals anyway, so it's unlikely Keith can even represent her himself..

Oliver will never have the option to live independently now, as the Independent Living Fund is to be scrapped. http://www.scope.org.uk/news/independent-living-fund-comment This would have topped up his care by, perhaps £300 or £400 a month, meaning that with Keith's help, he could have lived in accommodation with only limited assistance. Going into permanent residential care would cost the state many times more and another cut announced, is that Oliver would no longer be entitled to mobility assistance in residential care. http://www.touchstoneblog.org.uk/2010/10/dla-and-residential-homes-a-nastier-cut-than-you-may-think/ He would lose the tiny bit of independence this afforded him and be stuck staring at four walls, unable to get out. Anyway, Keith can't bear it, so will probably just carry on caring for him at home until he's too old or frail himself.

The next time Oliver needs to stay in hospital, the family will lose his DLA. All the extra costs of car parking, extra care for Sarah while Keith is at the hospital with their son, accommodation for overnight stays, will now have to be found from somewhere. The last time he was admitted, there were only 4 trained nurses for every 28 patients instead of the usual 8. The hospital is even talking about closing the ward altogether because of the "efficiency savings" they are expected to make, (which are actually stealth cuts). This means Oliver will have to go to the larger hospital 34 miles away, where he knows no-one and Keith will incur even more costs visiting and transporting him.

In fact, even DLA is to be abolished, replaced with Personal Independence Payments. http://disabledpeopleprotest.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/dla-to-be-replaced-by-pip-from-201314/ First the government said they would need to cut around 20% of claimants altogether, recently the figure of 25% was suggested. As Sarah is only in the Work Capability group, it's unbelievable, but likely that she could be one of the 25%. They live in fear. If Sarah loses her DLA, they will lose Keith's Carers and Attendance allowance too.

Because local government faces cuts of over 7%, the council have cut £200,000 of funding to Oliver's hospice that Keith so relies on for a few hours respite. They have no choice but to close now, leaving the most disabled local children without this incredible resource that helps to develop them into adults who can play some role in society.

Keith and Sarah have looked at Keith returning to work, but it would mean most of their benefits would be cut, Oliver would have to go into care, and Sarah would simply have to wait for Keith to be off shift to get any care herself. Besides, Fire fighters are being cut too, so it's unlikely there would be work for him anyway. http://www.nhsonline.net/news/article.asp?CategoryId=37&ArticleId=4631

George Osborne announced in his Comprehensive Spending Review that for those on ESA in the Work Capability Group who have working partners, the benefit is now to be time limited to one year. (retrospectively) http://www.disabilityalliance.org/esacut.htm This means that Sarah would no longer have any personal income at all, despite contributing tax and NI for years as a paralegal. Ironically, this particular cut makes it impossible for Keith ever to return to work again.

The family is under so much stress, that Ruby is frightened to go to school, in case her home has been taken away when she gets back. Sarah has considered committing suicide to ease Keith's burden and Keith cries himself to sleep when he thinks no-one can hear him.

It is entirely possible they might end up destitute or even homeless.

Will you help? Will you stop this? Is it really credible that families like Keith, Sarah, Ruby and Oliver carry the burden of our financial woes while RBS give Hester a 2.5 million bonus?

Share, Retweet, Link, Write to Your MP, sign the petitions, join a Disability anti-cuts group, tell your friends, write a blog post or an article for your newspaper.

The dearly fought principles of equality and human rights for all, basic rights to dignity and a life as fulfilling as it is possible to live are being ripped away. The logical conslusion of these cuts are unthinkable. Please, please, don't let them happen.

** The family above are an example of real life stories. Names have been changed.


  1. Sue,

    I have emailed this article in my interna list, set upa feed on it, tweeted it to my followers, put it on my facebook, and I have a link to your site on my own website...

    I hope all this helps!! :) :) :)

    Chat later..

  2. Tut, Eoin, you might try!!!
    BRILLIANT!! It's getting lots of help, and I don't mind being a shameless beggar. It's just so awful when you see it altogether. Thanks Eoin, you're a great supporter.

  3. "The government are also limiting the right to appeal anyway, so it's unlikely Keith can even represent her himself at a tribunal."

    Is this speculation, or do you have a reference for it? Because if it happens it will affect me directly, and hundreds of thousands of others; and I'm now panicking about it in a way that's completely unnecessary if it isn't announced, and completely necessary if it is.

  4. Sorry Gwenhwyfaer, it was something I read, and one of the few facts I didn't link to.
    Don't panic, there are talks of fees for tribunals and limiting ESA appeals, but nothing has happened yet, and I think it may be dropped.

  5. I can't find the link now, but I'll ask some contacts if they have it.....

  6. Just shows the system stinks. I am waiting for a Heart TX not quite as simple as that. Went to a back to work Interview and was asked when can you expect it to happen and when it does you will be able to work again,....

  7. This is a brilliant post Sue, and I am in tears as I read it. I too suffer from MS and am in the Work related activity group. I'm scared all the time of what will happen to me. And I face the same housing problems as well. My LHA is at the maximum but there are very few properties around here that 1, have lower rents, and 2, will take tenants on benefits.

  8. Oh Hellsbells, it's very sad isn't it.

    The story all came from friends. Let's hope that by chipping away we can make a difference.

  9. You made me cry. Well, not you. The government, the media, the vast majority of the public - they all make me cry. Every day when I wake up the first thing I do is read various blogs and articles to keep up with the latest news (read: attacks) and every day I end up in tears. :(

    (Also, this would make a wonderful post for One Month Before Heartbreak (http://onemonthbeforeheartbreak.blogspot.com/) and I was just wondering if you plan on blogging for that?)

  10. sorry couldn't find a way to contact you, am putting this here hope you dont mind. please help spread the word!

    National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts: Day 2 - Target Atos Origin and the Poverty Pimps


  11. Johnny, I couldn't be happier that you did!
    Will check out your blog later too.

  12. Greetings Sue,

    My husband has Crohn's too and is struggling to work even part time with pain and side affects of the horrid medications he takes.

    I'll share your blog with friends, it's very moving.

    Thanks and hope things improve for you.

  13. Lady Stum - Comments like that are what make me keep going. Crohn's is very, very hard and if what I write helps anyone, I'm thrilled.

    I'm SOOO glad I started this....

  14. Well done Sue,

    It seems it was a very worthwhile exercise! :)

  15. Absolutely brilliant post, thank you for bringing together all that information in such an accessible way. Will try and circulate as widely as I can.

  16. The media has caused so much hate out there it is almost impossible to find a healthy person that cares, they all think we are swinging the lead and should go get a job!

  17. Eoin, very exciting day.
    Hessian Pepper - I'm so glad, thanks for sharing.
    QVC - I know, but *whatever* we just have to keep explaining.

  18. Just playing devils advocate here, having spent the day with an old friend who is a district nurse in London. She regularly visits patients who are living in housing stock that should have been condemned years ago.
    1) capping income at £26,000. I assume this figure must be based on "average" earnings UK wide? I seem to remeber cameroon saying that benefits should not be more than an average working family income. I have friends who are HCAs (male and female) who are the only wage earners in their households- they earn a maximum of £17,000pa before tax. Even a newly qualified RN or doctor is on less than this. Now this is not a judgement about "worth". Merely pointing out that many of those who are contributing via NI will not attain £26,000 in their present jobs for quite some time (if at all in the case of the HCAs).
    2) cuts to RSCNs...well this is what has been happening in adult nursing for over a decade. Taking care of an elderly demented patient is just as demanding. My friend has clients who are reaching the stage of needing fulltime nursing care but as they and their partner are homeowners, their assets will be stripped. Nevermind that selling the house will only pay for a few years of care.
    3) The age old chestnut about NI contributions. I have already pointed out that these bear little relation to the real world. Even if we assume that 50% of the population contribute for 40 years at around £3000pa, the deficit is enormous. My lifetime contributions would not even pay for a single liver transplant, for example. To reach the £26,000 quoted originally, either its taking the annual contributions nine people, or almost half of my contributions to date. I realise this is being overly simplistic but its not that far from the truth. It merely shows that NI contributions are not enough to pay for the NHS and social care budgets as they were a decade ago, let alone today. Hence other tax money is also being tapped into.
    4) I think you are right when you say that most healthy people are being misled in terms of where the cuts are going. One of the most common comments I here from relatives in the ICU is that they had no idea what we actually do. They have no comprehension about the real costs of healthcare in general, let alone a stay in the ICU. I am quite fond of quoting that a day in the ICU costs between £3000 and £5000 for an average patient. This can rise to over £10,000 depending on the therapy and drugs that are being used. I am sure that when the original social care bills were being thought up, no one could have forseen that people would be living quite so long, the advances in healthcare to keep people alive etc....so I'm afraid that the idea we can keep on robbing Peter to pay Paul has finally come back to bite us.
    5) I started my training under the tories and the hateful Mrs T. As far as I can see, we will have a private healthcare system within the next decade. Although I have no wish to see this happen, there are days (especially when I am dealing with problems in ED and the admissions units) when I think it serves us right. Over the last decade there has been a rise in expectations surrounding healthcare and social care that I think is sending the wrong message. We have to find a way of making people take responsibility foe themselves, rather than blaming the world for their ills. I recently did a back to work interview for an HCA who has been off for several months after an obese (25 year old) patient fell on him. He required spinal surgery and is having to return to work in the outpatient department (not what he wants) because he is no longer physically fit enough to work on a ward. The family of the obese patient are currently trying to sue the Trust over this fall. How fair is that? A 25 year old who is too obese to get out of a chair unaided is trying to sue because when she wanted to get to the sweet trolley that the WRVS bring onto the ward, a male HCA foolishly believed that he could take her weight unaided, as the ward had a total of 3 staff on duty at the time.

  19. But what's any of that got to do with a family with two severely disabled members in it Dino?
    The costs involved go way beyone the norm, 26,000 just won't cut it.
    So what? Someone with severe disabilities should be able to live on the same amount as an HCA?? Irrelevant really. Did you actually read the post?

  20. Sue you have a way with words.

    I am a relatively "healthy person that cares" as a trade union representative I have represented members who are struggling with benefits.

  21. Zeph - I love that my UKPR fellow posters still comment here. I'm loving blogging, but all that non-partisan stuff was really good training, lol

  22. I don't know what it's like in other parts of the country but in Chesterfield where I live many organisations such as the CAB, Law Centre and Unemployed Worker's centre have all seen their funding cut by local councils.

    This means that at a time when people are getting deeper into debt and risk losing benefits the groups that could help them simply haven't got the resources necessary to meet demand.

    So many people could lose benefits simply because they have no-one to help guide them through all the complex rules and regulations that surround the appeals process.

  23. I think this story at The Third Estate might be your source on losing the right to appeal.

    It isn't a policy, (yet) more of a statement that the decision maker is to be trusted and therefore appeal not necessary.

  24. Latentexistence - Thank you so much!! I felt terrible for Gwenhwyfaer yesterday. I knew I'd read it, but couldn't for the life of me remember where. (My worst fault by far)

    I don't think we need to worry too much about that one either, sounds highly illegal to me.

  25. Thanks! I feel a little better now. I think the reason I was so scared is that I've worried for a long time that their answer to the whole system collapsing under the weight of ESA appeals (which is pretty much inevitable) will be to simply stop allowing those appeals.

    Also, I believe the £26000 benefits cap will not apply to any benefits received by a family which contains a member in receipt of DLA, rather than just not applying to the DLA itself?

  26. Gwenhwyfaer - Really? That's interesting, and I hadn't understood that. Is that definite, because it would be nice to do a "good news" post if so.

  27. Sue, I've circulated this to my friends. The most shocked was someone who you might think was very right wing.
    She was under the belief that benefit cuts would target the fraudulent claimants. A relative of hers was severely disabled in a motorbike accident in his teens, but with tremendous support from many of the services you've mentioned has a remarkably independent life despite frequent admissions to hospital for nasty spinal surgery and hospital acquired infection.
    To reduce his support would be so cruel and severly diminish the quality of life for this lovely, determined, funny, man.

  28. Mark - I had same experiences. Long chat with Tory friends produced astonishment. Things like ILF and Access to Work very Tory in outlook. They couldn't believe the stuff disabled people were facing.

    Happily, this post has gone "viral". So many retweets and shares, I now can't track them and hits are steady. Hopefully many thousands more will read this post and think "Oh dear, that's not right"

  29. Brilliant blog, but scary as hell. This government terrifies me, they're just riding roughshod over the most vulnerable people in society.

    My family will be affected by the loss of mobility allowance, my daughter is severely disabled with autism and epilepsy, and in a specialist residential school out of area because there is nothing locally which can meet her needs. Because of this, she will lose her mobility allowance, meaning that I will not be able to provide for her needs when she is at home, nor could I go to all the meetings I need to attend to make sure her needs are met, the reviews and consultations that I am regularly obliged to go to. I am a single parent so I have no husband to do half the work, I have to do it all myself as her father is unwilling due to his work and lifestyle choices. I've been told that I should go and get a job so that I can afford a car, but then who will go to the meetings? Can you imagine most employers putting up with me having to have more days off than most? Without a car, I would have to take a full day off to go to a meeting, so wouldn't take just a couple of hours like it does currently.

    I couldn't afford taxis without her mobility allowance, and my daughter wouldn't go in one anyway, due to her being very confused by changes, taxis take her to school so she wouldn't understand if I wanted to go somewhere else.

    I could carry on with more reasons how this single cut will ruin our family life but I won't, I will just have to carry on hoping they rethink this mess :(

  30. Wow, mandyque, thanks for commenting. How terrible for you.
    Sometimes a troll asks if I can blog why I can't work. I think the question is who would employ me? For all the reasons you state plus my unreliability, ill health, appointments, never mind the family stuff everyone has, what actual job could I possibly do?
    As regular readers know, I managed to blog through the most laughable situations recently - I can't see Murdoch asking me to write a column vomiting into a bowl in my jamies sticking needles into my bum and passing out with pain, lol!!

  31. Sue your blog is amazing, I ask one thing which has may been already asked because I was only just shown here and have not read it all yet...people with back to work interviews and medical examinations, are you taking a friend, rep of various societies with you? Have you info sheets on what these guys can or cannot do and say when you are interviewed? Have you had conversations with sympathetic people on how to deal? If not how would you most easily be able to access these resources?

    Please let me know and I will feed it back to local groups as best I can. We can't promise miracls any more than union reps do (of which I am one). There may be something that will help though?

  32. Thank you J. For me, my the charity for my condition NACC have great resources for claiming, and I think others do to.
    There are disability benefit claimant sites too, I'll post some links in the morning.

  33. Dino nurse,

    I get some of your frustrations in your post but I strongly disagree with others. For example I am a single worker earning just over 17,000pa and my only disabilities are that I'm bipolar and due to an accident I walk with a limp. That does cause me difficulties, personal unpleasantness etc (and a fair bit of clumsiness)but the costs to me are minimal as I have an NHS walking aid and take medication which I have a certificate for. So on the 17,000 pa, I can deal.

    I'm not a severely disabled child who needs a special room and attendance at a special school miles away as well as taxis every day and respite and different food etc etc. Neither am I a progressively disabled adult losing more and more functions whose partner has to pay for two carers a day, a specially adapted lift and hoist, adaptations (which change each month as I lose the ability to do more things for myself)and has to deal with being called out of work anytime anywhere when I have an emergency. Bosses, strangely, tend to get fed up with this after a while.

    How are the situations even vaguely comparable? I don't think you mean that they are, so what's the other option?

  34. Sue, that as well "Who would employ me?"

    My mental health issues scare people. I had one manager who would flinch every time he got near me because he was scared the crazy would rub off.

    Discussions I've had with managers:

    Manager: "You don't seem alert enough/You seem inappropriate/I felt uncomfortable/You made a mistake/we have an image to maintain.

    Me: "I'm really sorry. The new medication I'm on's not settling down/they've increased my dosage to full/they've prescribed me tranquilisers because I am too agitated."

    Manager: *exasperated sigh* Well, why don't you just stop taking the medication if it's going to cause poor performance at work?

    Me: Believe you me. Stopping taking the meds will NOT look like an improvement.

    Manager: I just don't understand you. It's as though you don't WANT to help me out here. Employing people like you...well anyway go and sit down.

    I'd forgotten how people love employing workers with disabilities and dealing with the day to day issues they face.

  35. Great posts J.

    I had some great bosses. Two said I did mor work in my 4 productive hours than the others in their 8.
    That meant one let me sleep under my desk for an hour when no-one was looking or sent me home when she saw me go white and grind my teeth with pain.
    Others paid me when they shouldn't or gave me different work at different times off the day.
    can't all be like that though can they.

    And does anyone ever consider that working nearly killed me?
    The more I dragged myself into an office, couldn't take any meds all day because of driving, had to not eat if I had an important deadline in case I spent the entire afternoon on the loo.....
    I tried Full time, late shifts, part time, self employed - in the end a consortium of people who cared about me bombarded me continually everywhere I went until they persuaded me to stop working.

  36. Sue and all

    The point is that you shouldn't be having to struggle... it is already enough. Great if there are sympathetic employers who will make it possible to do a job which is within your capabilities, but the extra costs of your illness/disability/being a carer should be covered as well as a living wage.

    The madness of bankers having 'earned' their 2.5m bonuses and the CEOs of major companies who 'earn' on average 75K every week ... these figures are completely unbelievable and unjustifiable, but they show that there is absolutely no question that this country could afford to pay all the extra costs and a living wage to those with disability or long term illness.

  37. http://soundcloud.com/gary-rudd/all-in-this-together-austerity-mix

  38. This is what happens when you try to comment during a 50+ hour week (only 37 will be paid for, mind).
    The point I was trying to make (and yes Sue, I did read the comments first) is that many fit and able bodied people who are earning alot less than £26K may well be asking themselves, why they should be getting a paycut due to increases in taxes, cost of living rises, payfreezes etc in order to carry on funding social care as it stands at the moment.
    Its all very well going on about banking and finance workers but its only a very small percentage that are on three figure salaries. The vast majority of workers in the UK in all sectors are on alot less. Although its pretty difficult to know who to believe when salary figures are published, its only a very small % (around 0.2 according to the Income Data Services in 2007) that earn more than £100K. Most of the newly qualified RNs that I know have no hope whatsoever of buying their own flat, let alone a house in the current climate (and we are not living in the South of the UK by any means). The same goes for any public/private sector employee earning less than £26K. Day in, day out I hear relatives and staff alike talking and the amount of sympathy for any minority/disadvantaged group is being eroded. Its not that anyone is denying that a disabled person/family needs extra support, it just that if you feel that your own standard of living is dropping, that you cannot afford to buy what you want, have a holiday etc, its human nature to start to feel hard done by. Now many people are being asked to lose more money in real terms and the frustration is starting to show. My friend in London (the district nurse)was telling me about the state of council flats in her patch. Now I grew up in London and wild horses would not drag me back to work/live there. However, my journey on the tube/bus and walking to my friends house was a real eye opener. I travelled through Hackney (an area that I knew as a child) and can't believe how rundown it has become.
    So, to get back to my original (obviously not very well constructed) point- its no use looking to increasing taxes on workers to foot the increasing bill for the NHS and social care, we need to find another way. Hence my comment about privatisation. If we had ever had a sensible party in office, we would have looked to good systems like Switzerland and Germany ( I have worked in both) and adopted something similar. Now instead we will get panic mongering and will end up with the worst aspects of the US system instead.

  39. Can you explain why that £26K of benefits/year is insufficient for your hypothetical family? Where does it all go, can you break it down? That is equivalent to a gross £35K/year salary, which is much more than many in work can hope for.

  40. I can try Impe.

    -Have you any idea how much care costs? hundreds, even thousands a week.

    -Prescription charges

    -Extra living costs ie modified transport, special feeds, sight aids, hoists, dressings, sensory eqipment, supplements

    -Accommodation/Petrol costs as specialist care is often not at your local hospital. Also for Consultant appointments, scans, procedures, etc

    -Modified living aids

    -Childcare/Special education.

    Frankly, you're right - many families can't survive on 35k and that is an indictment in itself. Most don't blame people who can't walk, move, see, hear, love or cry though. An ounce of contemplation shows what a life of agony and desperation might cost. At least financially.


  41. What did people do in the 1950's when there was no benefit system? They managed, got family help and got on with it! There was nothing for them and they expected nothing! I remember my grandparents having no electricity but did they whinge? Did they crawl for help? No they got on and got work! And yes my grandad was not a well man - he had a heart problem, infected leg and still managed to do 2 jobs COS HE HAD to! AND he was also supporting his mother in law as she was ill and had no where to live so naturally she went to live with her family! She didn't scrounge a home and claim a load of cash!! We are breeding wimps who expect it all done and paid for them! I for one am sick of paying for other peoples illness, others children and foreign immigrants. Why should my taxes go towards someone with aggrophobia/MS/arthiritis/whatever the complaint is? Why should I be expected to pay for others children when they are poor? If they are poor then surely they should not have them! And please don't wine its your right! NO IT ISN'T. If people had to pay for themselves and their familes, they would be better people, closer communities and the country would be better off!
    The sooner we scrap the benefit system for shirkers, not workers, the better we will be - it will wipe the problem of immigrants coming to scrounge straight away!
    And all those people with poorly children, I do pity you but really its not my problem - you wanted the kid, you pay for it!
    Cone on England - where is your pride!

  42. And i ALSO beileve that Sue marsh, if your benefits would stop you too would find work to pay for your computer and internet connection - needs must as they say.
    I am sometimes disgusted and embarrassed by people who come up with excuses aas to why they can't/won't work! It they put that effort into job searches i wouldn't have to pay for you!
    Get off your lazy backsides - none of us are in perfect health but we keep going! Imagine if we were all like you???

  43. Dear Mrs AVERAGE of Britain. What a very, very suitable name you chose.

  44. Mrs Average..you pay tax to help those who need it becuase God Forbid you one day become seriously ill and in turn unable to work, need 24hr care etc and then it will be the turn of other tax payers to help you. Unless you thnk you could manage on your own, unable to sit on the toilet without someone holding you, or you would be happy to sit in your own waste becuase you can't pay for a carer to come change you. Or maybe you feel that if you need tube feeding but can't connect yourself or change your feed bags that it ok becuase if you can't afford to pay for someone and you have noone to help you it will just magically connect itself?

    The majority of disabled people who are unable to work WANT to work. But noone will employ them, not when there are plenty of able body people out there who dont need as much time off for hospital appointments or sick time. Who don't need adaptions to enable them to do the work. So while its all good thinking that disabled people on benefits are lazy scroungers who 'would will have to go find a job when their benefits are cut anyway', its getting the job that is also extremely difficult.

    I really hope that you or your family never have to go through this but please remember that not everyone has family or friends to support them, not everyone has a condition that allows them to work.

    The help disabled people get is nothing like what people assume. I had to fight for over a year to get a wheelchair from NHS. its on loan so they can take it back whenever they want. I haave been fighting for over 6months to get reffered to a dr who can potentially stop my condition from shutting down my stomach so I can avoid needint to be tube fed.
    I had to fight for neqrly a year just to get assessed for care from social services and in the end they said I was entitled but they cannot provide it becuase of my housing situation. I have a genetic condition that affects my mum. She cannot care for me becuase she too is as affected. I do not have a partner who can care for me and I also do not have friends who are able to care for me. Somedays im laying in my own waste, some days I cannot feed myself, some days I cannot dress or wash myself.
    But I want to work. And i still hope tht someone will give me that chance. But finding a job that I can do from my bed, in the hours that I am able to function enough to do it has been very difficult.
    I still apply for jobs that i know i cannot do but out of deseration. I have not had an interview in over a year. my applicaiton doesnt even get through now becuase of the gaps in my employment history due to my illness. I worked from the age of 15 until I was 25 and my illness became what it is today.
    My degree and years of experience count for nothing.

    Please don't think that this is as simple as you suggest becuase for alot of people its isn't.

  45. I am one of these diabled people would love to work but due a condition that changes every day some times every hour. I worked from 15 to 29 when I was signed off as medically retired due to my disablity. Sometimes I would work 12 hour a day seven days a week for months at a time which effected my health a lot.

    My condition is an inversible one as I have a chronic pain condition but because I have to use a wheelchair then people can see it. I also dont have control of my bowel or bladder so I have use equipment to control these. If I didnt have my powerchair I wouldnt get out as I cant push myself in my manual chair as I have problems with my hands and wrists and also it would cause me to be more fatigued due to doing this. I have been trying to get support at home as I cant do most of the things people take for granted like having a shower so that I can treat my skin, help with meal prep, cleaning and a few other things. so far I have been refused 7 times for any support. i havent had a shower in months because i cant reach a lot of parts of my body, if i need to get to my feet to clean them i have take my hips out of joint so that i can do this.

    There are many other disabled people that dont get the care they need to live their lifes the way they want. There are many charities that are losing their funding to support people get the benefits that they are entitled too.

  46. Sorry forgot to say that I dont have family or friends to help me these things.

  47. DeeNJai - I'm so sorry, but not surprised. I'm hearing your story every day.
    We will do all we can to change this.

  48. @Mrs Average Briton, lol! You've packed so much in. It's funny really, I'd argue that people like this character you've created should be kept away from others, as the extreme hatred they feel towards the rest of the human race will find ways of making itself felt even when they're being polite, and is arguably a dangerous psychosis in itself. Sad that England has so many, as principles and compassion for the unfortunate really are something to be proud of.

  49. @Mrs Average Briton

    As I was reading your comments, I almost expected you to say 'Are there no workhouses that the poor and disabled can go to?', which made me think of the time when they existed...along with child labour and many other things this country ought to be ashamed of. You paint a picture of 1950's Britain as if people's lives were better back then...naievety at best, downright bigotry towards the problems that the impoverished have always faced at worst. I fail to see how cutting funding to the voluntary sector would create a 'closer community'....are you suggesting that people would suddenly go out of their way and give up large chunks of their free time en masse to help out their sick, elderly or disabled neighbours if they suddenly lost their only lifelines? And do this as an unpaid gesture of kindness? Would you? Unfortunately, as you must well realise given your chosen nickname, the 'average briton' will not, that's why many charitable organisations had to be established in the first place. Or perhaps you'd rather these people just go away and disappear or die in poverty, alone and unheard just like many did back in the 1950's. Mind you, I suppose with your attitude you'd say that if they must die then 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.', a line I'm sure you're familiar with.

    It is shocking that in a country where our legal system no longer tolerates the abuse of people based on their skin colour, ethnic background, nationality or sexuality, there is still such widespread unjustified hatred levelled against disadvantaged people and it's fuelled by both national newspapers and even the government. Hopefully in years to come, we will look back upon these times with shame, just as we do whenever the slave trade is mentioned.

    Excellent blog post by the way, Sue.

  50. I feel physically sick reading this. The problem with "cuts" is that when you ask people if they think cuts should be made, it is such an abstract term, people don't see how it effects people. And often when they say they agree with cuts, they actually mean cuts that don't effect them.

    With the relaunch of the Big Society yet again, how can Cameron look people in the eye and come up with these trite political phrases when the cuts are effecting the most vulnerable.

    I will do a post in a few days on this. This year will be interesting, we will find out if people do care.

    All the best

  51. Brilliant. Moving. Terrifying.

    The whole cabinet should be forced to read this and react to it. Well, I'd prefer we found some of the most interesting examples of disabled people who're going to be screwed and forced Cameron et al to talk to them all, with the media watching, but that isn't likely.

  52. I am shocked by mrs average Britain.

    People talk about being against the cuts. I am not against cuts as I don't want Britain to be bankrupt. We need to accept some cuts.

    I am however against cuts to DLA. Why target the most vulnerable people in society? It's ridiculous.

    I am a working tax payer and I am glad to be paying for the care of people who can't work themselves. One day it will be me needing that help (I am in the very early stages of Myotonic dystrophy).

  53. Flipping morons.

    The British public don't deserve everything they get. They deserve much worse.

    About the same that their victims have to put up with. Endless beurocracy, threats, offical harrassment, discrimination, lies. I really hope Mr And Mrs Suburbonk get hit for everything they've got.

  54. Mrs Average Britain I will tell you what happened in the 1950`s people suffered you muppet it wasnt a better time and it wasnt anything to be proud of.

  55. carrie to Mrs Average Briton - "I really hope that you or your family never have to go through this...."

    I don't!
    I think it's exactly what people like that need. Maybe then they would have more compassion.

  56. Great post, I never knew that, this is by far one of the most comprehensive posts i've seen here and look forward to more of the you have always nice things to post.

  57. I was speaking to a friend of mine (Tory Voter) when the conversation of the cuts came up.

    Its not cuts, its Austerity'
    Yes Mate, for you who is in full time work, on a good salary or someone who is earning hourly wage, in good health and have no worries its just a bit of Austerity, for me who is stuck on a 'living' which is deemed 'suitable' by DWP with no way of increasing it through paid work, or increasing hours it is a cut, The money I have to pay towards my rent has increased, the cost of Diesel for the car has increased,
    'Yes but that hits me as well'
    'Yes it does, but if you was earning a hourly wage, what do you do if you want more money'
    'True, I'd do some overtime'
    'Well for me, I have to be available for the misses for 37hrs a week before I can even qualify for Carers Allowance, which is a pittyful £55/wk, then if we are lucky and we didn't save we get income support that JUST about pushes me above minimum wage, with that I have to pay bills, buy food, pay the rent and find money for Diesel, so all this is a cut to me'
    *Insert awkward silence*
    Oh true
    Why do you think I had to quit my job?
    It wasn't because I hated it, wasn't because I didn't see any progress, It was simple, earning £20 (which was all I got after Income Support docked my wages) barely covered my Diesel cost to get there.
    *Subject Dropped, Gulped down the can of Stella that was kindly donated by said friend and reached for my second*

  58. Pain is not a virtue.

  59. I was alerted to this blog by a 4 mins piece to cammera after a recent Channel 4 News programme. I am thankful for the way it lists the effects of the cuts that have been announced, but neither legislated for, nor enacted. With this recession I have tried to believe that an announcement is different from an enactment of what is announced.

    None the less, this new attempt to get 'the big society' to be more 'self sufficient' will prove that any such society is actually going to become more openly selfish and actually smaller. The front line in the advance of this new openly selfishness/individual self sufficiency will be with employers, who will have many more choices than ever before about who to employ and why, and more importantly who to reject for employment, only for others to reject them for similar reasons, employer group-think.

    I faced this thirty years ago, as a youth, when I recieved half arsed training for work and then, like snow in summer, the jobs for young men evaporated. I did my best by returning to college whilst signing on, but I soon learnt how employers wanted a more intensive education than I could give myself on the dole. The market failed, and failed many people. I am presently on incapacity benefit, and if I am forced unto workseekers allowance or some other Orwellian titled benefit, I will be honest with employers about having a history of depression;let them be respocible for their choices, let me be responcible for telling the truth and having my personal conviciton about life. Let them render unto Ceasar and me unto God, I feel much healthier, more whole, for admitting to my depressions than denying, or supressing, them.

    When employers complain collectively and publically to that nice Mr I.D.S. about there being 'too few good applicants for [good] jobs' I hope the BBC and other media organisations takes up the debate, and the lack of reality some employers live in will be exposed, and I hope those employers publically get called whingers for refusing to enlarge society, and the public acceptance of people as they are. Even as the story will trail off into generalisations.....

  60. Thanks again and looking forward for your post on making more.

  61. When my DLA is taken away, I WILL be made homeless, as my DLA makes up the shortfall in housing benefit. This is my greatest fear, I can go without food for days at a time and I quite often do, the same goes for energy, but without somewhere to live, that will be the end.

  62. I'm in process of appealing ESA decision. Am at the point where nothing left but to stand up and fight. At a time when I have little strength to do so. Sound familiar? I'm finding that DWP are more than usual putting obstacles in my way eg. even after two weeks of phone calls to ask if they've received my GL24 Appeal form and yesterday physically going to local JC for them to scan and email copy they say they have not received it. Meanwhile they have stopped money forcing me to cancel all DD's and go for Crisis Loan for food. I was informed a maximum of 3 in any 12 month period was allowed. This week I shall be forced to apply for the second as they will not be able to reinstate my benefits (for the time being) until receipt of said GL24!

    I am currently losing the will to live as not only am I prone to severe depression but following an accident 4 years ago I have a lame arm and severe arthritis in my knees not to mention diabetes, sleep apnoea, hyper tension and high colesterol.

    I am so glad to have found this site after reading Community Care in the library yesterday so that I can add my voice to the millions. It is such a relief to communicate with others. I have heard of 4 suicides this year. One was a neighbour and one the daughter of a lifelong friend and I was seriously beginning to feel I was headed that way. Now I just feel angry and powerless. But if there is anything I can do. I will.


  63. Ohh its really cool to have such amazing post Thanks and regards...

  64. Social cleansing and social Darwinism are the order of the day for the Government (and for the last one). They want us DEAD, never mind being just unemployed or homeless or what have you. People like IDS and Cameron (or Balls or Milliband, or Clegg, or...) may very well publicly state they don't understand why people are so unhappy, killing themselves etc. in such numbers or guff like that, but I bet you that privately they are celebrating it, and will encourage the circle of hate and blame and death to continue. Politicians of any and every colour are just sociopaths in suits.

    I'm going to agree very much with the anon poster up above - reap what ye sow, and I very much hope the British public have a bitter, bitter harvest.

    1. The government are out to kill us are they Sslaxx? Then I say KILL Them first mate - FORCE strikes, mass demonstrations/walkouts, riots even a revolution - Shouldn't be hard in This environment anyway & WHEN (not if) the able-bodied working relatives of our disabled find out just What is being done to them - A fact the government has been Very careful to either hide or make So embarrassing via the tests? The disabled Don't tell people through shame & the government Know that & rely on it thus far. But When able bodied relatives Know What's going on & the disabled have Had enough as well? The match that the government have put to a bomb by doing this? Will explode & then some. That's not to say it Can't be sped up in this process mind & if the Condem Coalition & it's Nazi Police/Stormtrooper 'shoot to kill' allies could Not handle a few thousand angry youths last summer? What do you think will happen WHEN the country turns on them en masse? They won't last Five f*cking minutes & they Know it.............

      Anyway, Sslaxx, Sue Etc? - I am in the position of many here - fogged & 'hazed' out by painkillers & spending days in a mess due to a long ago operation that nearly killed me & wrecked my life leaving my work future (then) in a mess (now). But I worked out WHAT the politicians want? LONG ago & ever since when I've been given their odious reviews & pathetic little application forms? I've gone through them, told the truth of HOW difficult it is for me & even when PUSHED On to their pathetic 'work experience & Jobhunt' schemes? I Tell The (would-be) employers what I'm like & why; They All without fail are Soon scared off - tell the DWP/Jobcentre Why & eventually? Said DWP has given up in exasperation Every time & returned me to my Income support.

      Now? I find I'm going on the equally ridiculous ESA but with No other income & a young son to care for some of the time as well as his home due to his B*tch of a mother leaving me? I'll FIND a way somehow to endure & as to Lain Duncan Smith or Chris Grayling Never MIND Andrew Lansley whose pretty much wrecked HALF our healthcare to now? IF I Ever see them in person? I'll Kill Them before they do me via their so-called 'reforms'. And I Mean That - never mind suicide - I'll use Homicide (bullet, bat, bare hands? Don't care) on one of those ghouls to Make Them All listen as in truth? It's only When something Like that (i.e. one of them Finally gets Physically Attacked as they damn well deserve) happens? That they Will listen. And as to what Else is coming? Clearly When the food cuts for families Due to ever rising prices & ever lessening money come to Bite & more & more end up unemployed in this hellish system Due To cuts Forcing their redundancy or sacking? There Will be riots on a scale not Seen here since 1990's Poll Tax riots & this time?

      This time around? They'll be Far worse than even that back in 1990 - They'll make Last summers affair? Look like the trial run it Was & in the end? They WILL bring down this so-called government by Force as we Should have bloody done long ago (neither tories Nor Labour would do Any of this were they as afraid as the French governments always are of being overthrown by Force). Anyway? This will happen in the end; You can see it coming? A Mile off, Mark my words.........


  65. NB If you're Against the Disability Tests & the NHS changes etc & don't know HOW to attack the Scum at ATOS? Why not do what the fans of my favourite football side Liverpool did to remove Their hated co-owners George Gillet & Tom Hicks by FORCE a couple of years ago? Go after their Financial Backers & Supporting Companies/organisations via the Internet & a Unified attack by as Many disabled people & organisations for those affected by the cuts as possible. Attack, bombard & Massively Email them about What is happening & Why you are going after them. Block & jam their mailboxes day in, day out en masse Until They are FORCED to stop dealing with ATOS - Trust me in the end? It WILL have an effect - If ATOS gets twitchy about online blogs attacking them & shuts down disabled forums via lawyers for criticism? What do you think a Direct assault like That will do to them but in truth? ATOS is only the start & That IMO? Is prob' The best way to get at them right now.

    Anyway re' Atos? Get RID of them or at least FORCE them to act responsibly? & You will remove a Keystone in the Government's policy on DLA & IB & ESA & IS benefits. They will be FORCED to back down then as IF people PASS tests en masse or ATOS quit the country? They'll be Right back in the position they were before when people were treated humanely & further? We will Know We can Force change from the government then by going After their favourite pet company or organisation. Why not try this? You've nothing to lose..........

    NBB And if you can affect ATOS as I suggest? And in the end - You CAN? Then why not the OTHER shadowy companies with a stake in the government privatising & Wrecking what's left of our economy so they can hoover up the proceeds & enslaw us? If you can GET one? Why not the others? Fact is we CAN - We just have to be creative with half our numbers ill or disabled like you Sue (& the other half demonised for not working often not through their own choice.) And I admire you BTW Miss - Very much.

    Fight BACK - SHOW them we're not lying down & remember? Not ALL revolutions Have to be physical (rioting, blood on the streets etc) You can affect things JUST as much if not More IF you know What buttons to press - It's just a matter of Finding the right ones; That's all..........

    Peace & keep well people.

    Bye for now.


  66. What I mean by that little lot is? We fought two World Wars to get the system those inhumane W*nkers now describe as an extra cost or unnecessary expenditure to HELP Our disabled & old/young live in comfort as well as treat our ill people in hospital Properly unlike the US where people die for want of medical bills being paid; If it takes ANOTHER war & I Do mean WAR - against Our Own government to FORCE them to remember that & uphold what we elected them to defend rather than doing what they have NO mandate for? So be it - They allow us words, protests & petitions? Because they Don't work or aren't allowed to; Thus allowing the government to stand & laugh at us as Labour once did in an election for their & thus our ineffectiveness.

    The One thing they ARE afraid of though? Is main force & When the government breaks their own contract with the people to govern properly & care for all as this lot have done? There is NO contract between them & the people or Any obligation to obey them anymore & thus the people are FREE to take Direct Action in response up to & including removing said government with Full justification for their actions - Which are no longer revolutionary? But instead necessary. In view of that little lot? I think you all Know what we should do or try to bring about because one way or another? It WILL soon happen - Mark my words................

    OK Peace People & Take Care.

    Will Try & get some insomniac's sleep now in my own strange little world.



  67. Thank you for this great blog.
    I am disabled and a benefit scrounger, as I have no choice because i am disabled.
    This goverment really do not understand that not only is it hard to work when disabled but also disability does cost more than being able bodied.
    The housing costs more, adaptations, transport the list goes on.
    If i were to loose my mobility allowence well I cannot see what i am going to do. Yes there is taxis but no mobility allowence i could not afford this.
    There is buses but I can't use buses as they are difficult for me to use.
    I work as self employed from home on a part time basis with this new universal credit this will not be an option for me.
    Being a single mum as well i cannot leave my two children to their own devices while I have to work 35 hours per week.
    The gov really do not care.

  68. I am so glad to have found this site after reading Community Care in the library.